There are, of course, two sides to every story and the privatisation plans for NSW bus services provide no exception. There seem to be as many for the proposals as there are against.
As part of its plan to overhaul, and develop, the transport infrastructure in the State, the Government is actively trying to persuade us to use ‘seamless intermodal transport’ rather than our private cars. In other words and for example, walk to the nearest bus stop, catch a bus to the station and then catch a train before walking to our final destination.
Fundamentally it must be a really good idea if more and more of us do just that but looking at the horrendous traffic jams it is clear that many of us prefer the comfort of our own cars.
As far as catching a bus is concerned however and, as a regular user, readily admitting the service has many good points, it also has some seriously negative aspects including, for example, the reality that some drivers:-
- Ignore the published timetable and leave before the advertised time. Are they, perhaps, paid on a piecework basis?
- Ignore the exact location of the bus stop. They pull up short or go some way past which means that those patiently waiting lose their places in the queue – quite a consideration when seats are often very limited.
- Do not wait for passengers to be seated or otherwise secure. They accelerate hard as soon as they’re ready to depart the stop with the result that such passengers are propelled first backwards in the bus at speed and then forwards, also at speed, as the driver jumps hard on his brakes to pull up at the next bus stop. Serious injury must be a very real risk especially in the case of elderly passengers.
- Are basically grumpy and rude, seemingly preferring to listen to the current talkback show played on his radio at a volume sufficient for the whole bus to hear.
- Drive in an unnecessarily aggressive manner often causing acute discomfort for his passengers who, after all, are paying customers. Instances of this include the fierce acceleration and braking mentioned earlier as well as taking corners at a speed more befitting a Formula One driver but with far less regard for the laws of physics involved in carrying out such a manoeuvre.
Of course there are also many drivers that are careful, kind and considerate but they are significantly in the minority in my view. If public transport is to be readily supported rather than grudgingly accepted, the mindset in the service delivery needs to change.
What’s wrong with providing a wonderful first-class service that the passengers (they’re paying customers, remember!) talk about and recommend warmly to others? Maybe then, more and more of us could be persuaded to use ‘seamless intermodal transport’ rather than our private cars.